American Hydroponics (AmHydro) has donated $15,000 worth of hydroponic equipment to Boston College’s Lynch School of Education to help facilitate a United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) education grant.
This grant will allow education professor Mike Barnett to add more teachers to his interdisciplinary education program that uses hydroponics to teach science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) subjects using agriculture. Professor Barnett also works directly with inner city children teaching STEM subjects as well as problem solving, marketing, and biology.
When asked why he chose to work with American Hydroponics Mike Barnett said the following, “I have worked with AmHydro in the past, when I approached them about this project I was trying to fill a need. In order to apply for a grant from the USDA I needed a corporate partner to provide a certain percentage of matching funds. That is where American Hydroponics stepped up and said ‘We can do that.’”
American Hydroponics Chief Technical Officer, Scott Kornberg, fully supports BC’s program. “At American Hydroponics we are passionate about education. We work hard to educate our growers to make them as successful as possible. When Mr. Barnett approached us about educating the next generation of growers and inspiring young people to love science, we were happy to help.”
As the world’s population continues to grow, our current system of crop production will not be able to keep up with demand. It is estimated that by the middle of this century almost 9 billion people will inhabit planet Earth. “Hydroponics is farming for the 21st century,” said Barnett. “Getting as many urban youth excited about science and problem solving is the goal, and hydroponics provides that mechanism.”
The USDA grant will allow Mr. Barnett’s program to add 90 more teachers to the program giving them a total of roughly 120 teachers using hydroponics in the classroom. “While we do supply materials to teachers, we also write curriculums and lesson plans to help teachers integrate these systems into their classrooms. In many cases teachers are teaching environmental science, biology, chemistry, they don’t specifically teach a hydroponics class.”
American Hydroponics has also partnered with Mike Barnett on a grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) for $1.2 million. “American Hydroponics makes things as affordable as they can for us, so we can reach as many teachers as possible through their educational discounts,” remarked Barnett. “It’s all about getting inner city kids excited about science, and hydroponics is the way to do it. AmHydro has helped us out with thinking thorough the design of our systems, different types of materials and equipment we can use, and general advice. They were one of the first folks to get excited about the project, and have been providing the core components for the systems we use for the past 2-3 years.